Famed for beautiful beaches, stunning white sands, wild flower-filled machair and strong sense of island identity, West Harris has something to offer all travellers.
Set at the south western tip, Leverburgh serves as the island’s second ferry terminal with regular sailings across the Sound of Harris to and from Berneray and is a great place to start your island explorations.
Stock up on essentials at the Leverburgh community shop and arrange alternative island transport with Harris Cycle Hire, or book a sea kayak, canoe or sailing, or land yachting experience with Harris Outdoor Adventure Centre – who can also provide mountain bikes with child trailers for families wanting to explore under pedal power.
Alternatively, choose a cruise from the fishermen’s pier to the outlying islands, with a range of charters and itineraries on offer taking in Pabbay, Taransay, Scarp, Rona, the Monarch Islands, the Shiants, the Flannans and stunning World Heritage Site at St Kilda.
More information about St Kilda is available at the nearby Seallam! Centre at Northton - the island’s premier visitors centre and a must see for those keen to understand the history and heritage of the Hebrides. The Seallam! Centre hosts permanent exhibitions covering both the abandoned island itself - The People of St Kilda - and the wider theme of abandonment across the area - The Emigrants.
The Seallam! Centre also recognises the importance for many of the Hebridean homecoming – as it houses the Western Isles leading genealogy research resource Co leis Thu? This professional service offers the descendants of islanders the chance to discover their Hebridean heritage or dig deeper into their island identity.
Northton is not only a great choice for connecting with history on Harris, it is also the perfect place to experience the elements and really revel in island isolation.
Head for the five beautiful beaches of the Northton Peninsula to discover wild island beauty at its elemental best, with stunning sands set against wild dunes and rich machair grasses, all of which provides habitats for Hebridean wildlife, with chances to spot everything from otters to eagles.
When explorations are over, weary travellers and wildlife watchers can find refreshment at the Temple Cafe, named for the roofless monastic chapel that still stands on the peninsula point.
Great Beaches can also be found further north, with both the stunning Scarista beach and the award winning Luskentyre sands offering views to the Isle of Taransay – made famous by the BBC’s Castaway programme.
Stop for a round on the challenging nine-hole golf course at Scarista (fees are payable by honesty box) or discover a little more about the island’s most famous industry with a visit to Luskentyre Harris Tweed, the artisanal enterprise of Donald John MacKay MBE – who persuaded sportswear giant Nike to use the traditional woven tweed in their designs and secured an order of 10,000 metres – which was woven by workers across the islands.
Woven into the landscape of the West Coast, visitors can see monuments to the island’s rich and diverse history – from the Clach Steineagaidh standing stone at Scarista that looks across the Atlantic to the outlying islands, to the recreated Iron Age broch at Borve. Or the Macleod stone – a monolith over the sands of Nisabost and the neolithic chambered cairn at which can be found in a front garden at Horgabost.
Whatever you come to Harris in search of – be it history, heritage, outdoors or adventure you are certain to find it in abundance here in the wonderful wild west.
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